A lengthy but absorbing tale steeped in profundity.

ORPHAN TREE AND THE VANISHING SKELETON KEY

From the Orphan Dreamer Saga series , Vol. 4

A girl capable of time travel attempts to prevent Armageddon in this fourth installment of Brown’s eschatological fantasy saga.

It’s 1998, and 16-year-old Daniela Rose Cavanaugh is the Orphan Dreamer. She’s destined to use her time-traveling Glass Tattoo to try rescuing humans from a pandemic, the precursor to Armageddon on Earth. In this novel’s concurrent narrative, set in the present day, humanity faces multiple threats, from Covid-20 to an “invisible planet” set to collide with Earth in less than a year. But Covid-20 may be a “trial run” for a deadlier pandemic that fallen angel Nomed has long been planning. Daniela’s mission to avert Armageddon involves traveling to 575 B.C.E. to find Yahweh’s prophet Ezekiel and solve the mystery of the enigmatic Skeleton Key. At the same time, she dreams of her “oily boy,” teen Cillian Finn, who’s an enslaved person in India. She prays to Yahweh, asking for an angel to help Cillian, though she’s still unsure if the boy is the prophesied Antichrist—perhaps the most discernible sign of humanity’s end. With the companionship of her best friend and assistance from a powerful angel, Daniela hopes to save the world. Despite the time-hopping narrative, Brown’s epic tale is easy to follow. Not only do chapter headers clarify the time period and locale, but the story often stays in one era for prolonged narrative stretches. Characters spend much of the story discussing everything from religions to the racism that Daniela, as a brown girl, and others have endured. They also repeatedly, sometimes excessively, address certain topics, like who or what are the Nephilim, the human/fallen angel hybrids eagerly anticipating Armageddon. But Brown’s smart, incisive writing ensures the measured story avoids lulls with many surprises.

A lengthy but absorbing tale steeped in profundity. (author’s notes, dedications, acknowledgements, author bio)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 655

Publisher: J. Nell Brown, LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Star-crossed lovers carve their own paths in an explosive conclusion that lives up to its title.

OUR VIOLENT ENDS

From the These Violent Delights series , Vol. 2

New monsters terrorize Shanghai amid political upheaval and the reignition of the blood feud between the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers.

The death of Marshall Seo unleashed a new wave of violence, but when a mysterious figure wielding control over more deadly-insect–releasing monsters begins extorting money from both gangs, their leaders agree to temporarily cooperate in the interests of eliminating a mutual foe. They order their respective heirs to find the blackmailer, and so, once again, Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai must work together for the benefit of those under their protection. But their feelings for each other—complicated by hidden truths, lingering love, and unforgiving duty—prove difficult to repress. Meanwhile, the time of revolution draws near: Workers continue to organize protests decrying both foreign occupation and gangster rule as the Nationalist Army marches toward Shanghai in its campaign to unite and reclaim the country. Secrets abound and loyalties are tested in this tightly plotted sequel featuring a multinational cast and told through multiple third-person perspectives, including those of supporting characters introduced in These Violent Delights (2020). Stubborn Rosalind, obliging Kathleen, and grief-stricken Benedikt all return to play vital roles that blend seamlessly into Roma’s and Juliette’s storylines as they each are forced to consider what it is they truly want and the lengths they will go to protect it.

Star-crossed lovers carve their own paths in an explosive conclusion that lives up to its title. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-534-45772-0

Page Count: 512

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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